The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has lodged papers, known as a First Notice, to begin the court process for a joint Fatal Accident Inquiry into the deaths of Katie Allan and William Lindsay.
Katie and William both died while in legal custody at Polmont HMYOI and an FAI is mandatory under Section 2(4)(a) of the Inquiries into the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016.
A preliminary hearing will be held on Tuesday 11 July 2023 at Falkirk Sheriff Court.
Commenting on the initiation of court proceedings, the Solicitor General, Ruth Charteris KC, said:
“I acknowledge the deep anguish that the deaths of Katie and William have brought to their families. I met with Katie’s mother and father and William’s mother and brother and having listened to them talk about their experiences I fully appreciate that the wait for these proceedings has been too long and distressing for them.
“My hope is that this Inquiry provides them with the answers that they are looking for and helps to prevent similar deaths in the future.
“The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has introduced a number of reforms designed to reduce the time it takes to investigate deaths, improve the quality of such investigations, and improve communication with bereaved families. As part of these reforms, a specialist custody deaths investigation team has been set up to focus on cases such as those of Katie and William.”
The purpose of a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) includes; determining the cause of death; the circumstances in which the deaths occurred, and to establish what, if any, reasonable precautions could have been taken, and could be implemented in the future, to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.
Unlike criminal proceedings, FAIs are inquisitorial in nature, and are used to establish facts rather than to apportion blame.
This Inquiry will explore the circumstances of both deaths, with particular focus on the Scottish Prison Service ‘Talk To Me’ strategy in relation to the prevention of suicide in prison.
Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on fatalities investigations for COPFS said:
“The Procurator Fiscal Service has thoroughly investigated the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Katie Allan and William Lindsay.
“The lodging of the First Notice enables FAI proceedings to begin under the direction of the Sheriff.
“An FAI will allow a full public airing of all the available evidence and allow the families and other interested parties to be represented. The evidence will be tested in a public setting and will be the subject of judicial determination.
“The families and their legal representatives will continue to be kept informed of significant developments as court proceedings progress.”